9 Unexpected Emotions You Experience After Losing A Parent

As published on Thought Catalog. You can view the full article here. 

1. Feeling guilty about feeling happy.

After my mother’s death, I looked forward to laughing again, but the first time I felt like I was ready to regain a normal part of my life, I felt guilty over doing so. Why buy myself a new painting if my mom wasn’t around? Why stop and get my favorite cup of coffee? Everything felt – and feels – like I’m wrong for doing it.

2. Doubting yourself over the way you grieve.

All your life, everyone will tell you that we all grieve in different ways, but when you lose a parent, suddenly everyone has a definition for the proper way for you to deal. Grieving isn’t just about sitting in a dark room with your knees huddled to your chest, rocking back and forth in a slow cry. Grieving is when you’re in the middle of brushing your teeth and you break down crying. It’s visiting their grave and feeling slight comfort because your parent is with you to make you feel safe – and it’s the bitter feeling of leaving as you walk back to your car. Everyone is passing along what they think it means to grieve – to heal – but the truth of the matter is that they won’t know what to say until they’ve been in your shoes and understand the confusion of losing your parent unexpectedly.

3. Feeling angry when someone complains their child is sick with the flu. Or anything that isn’t the death of a parent.

Everything just seems to pale in comparison to loss, and I don’t really have the time – or sympathy – to feel bad that your child has the flu, when my mom’s child is feeling like the world ripped her heart out and is desperate for answers. I’m sorry, but telling me how bad you have it right now is just plain insensitive.

4. Hating company, but not being able to be alone yet.

When your parent dies, suddenly everyone comes out of the woodwork. Everyone tells you about good memories they had of your mom, and your friends ask you out to lunch, and suddenly your social schedule is busier than it’s been in months. Yet, the last thing you want is company, because talking is mentally exhausting. You feel like you can only mutter the same sentences over and over again so many times before all you want is a break to decompress. Yet, being alone terrifies you because it’s the only time you have to collect your thoughts. When you’re alone, you have no distractions, no happy memories, just the pain overwhelming you for you to deal with.

5. Feeling terrified that your other parent is going to die.

Before my mom passed, the last person I worried about leaving alone was my independent father. Now, being over my apartment for even an hour makes my skin crawl because I worry that I’ll get another one of those phone calls urging me to get to my parents’ house as soon as possible. Suddenly, you realize how fragile life is, and you are scared to not be there in case something happens.

6. Feeling lost when your friends don’t bring up your parent in conversation.

The first time I was around my extended group of friends after my mom died, all I could think about was how they weren’t talking about my mom incessantly like I was desperate to. Talking about what happened makes you feel connected to them still, and it’s unbearable to think or talk about something menial like work, or writing, or decorating my new apartment, when my mom is no longer around. You lose all interest in routine small talk.

7. Feeling scared. All the time.

I’ve always felt safe at my apartment, and now, I have this notion of death playing on a constant loop in my head that makes me turn my head every minute. I feel uneasy all the time now. There’s no such thing as peace, or a good night’s sleep. Every second is filled with anguish.

8. Hating the mornings more than anything.

I had always been a morning person, but now, I despise them more than anything. As the hours go by, I become adjusted to the notion that my mom won’t be calling me to tell me about her day. I have friends texting me, and my dad talking to me about things other than my mom. When I go to sleep, I have time to readjust to it and kind of live my life normally again.

But, then I wake up in the mornings and the reality of my mom’s death hits me like a tidal wave. I don’t know what’s worse – waking up in my apartment, missing the blinking text message I always had from her telling me to have a good day, or waking up at my dad’s house, looking out at the hallway where she passed away, expecting to hear her singing to Elvis on Sunday morning making coffee, and then walking out and realizing that the kitchen’s empty.

9. Losing joy in everything I once enjoyed.

Everything I do, no matter what it is, has lost its value – to the point where I wonder: will I ever enjoy anything, ever again?

I Ghosted Someone And This Is Why I Don’t Regret It

For a brief three-month window, I “dated” this dude named Craig. His name’s not really Craig, but I can only assume this is a really Craig-like thing to do.

Attention: To anyone reading this named Craig, don’t be this guy, OK?

Craig is what Vince Vaughn would probably refer to as a stage five clinger. Like, he wasn’t terrible and you could kind of tell he was just desperate for love, but his approach made you kinda want to run away from that senator’s luxury mansion (I love “Wedding Crashers”).

To read the rest of this article, please check out the full version on Elite Daily.


I Stayed In A Loveless Relationship To Prove Love Had Meaning

Love is a fickle bitch. It’s so confusing. It can be so overwhelming that it turns people into love-crazed beings who will do literally anything for the sake of adrenaline coursing through their veins.

And, love can also be something that loses its meaning… after weeks, months and even years.

To read more, please check out this article on Elite Daily.


I Was a Featured Writer in a Book By Thought Catalog

“You’ve found love, and light and life will carry on like it never had before this moment, before love, before you, before them, before everything.”

Thought Catalog book Courtney Dercqu







You can read and purchase Thought Catalog’s book, “Forever: Essays About Soulmates, Love, and Finding Your Forever Person” here.

My Moment in the Sun

I just want to acknowledge for a moment the effect of hard work. Three years ago, I never thought that I’d be standing here, holding up a copy of a book that I’m a featured writer in. It makes all the years of self-doubt, the scrutiny, the pain, and the constant hope that one day I’ll be able to see my words – my name – in print come full circle. Thank you, Thought Catalog for this wonderful opportunity that gave me, my fiance, and my parents, a moment we’ll be forever thankful for.


I Lost My Mother, But I’m Finding Comfort In All The Signs That She’s Never Truly Left Me

As published on Thought Catalog. Please check out the post here.

Easter MorningI lost my mom on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 at 4:00am in the morning. My mom and I were so close that we could often feel when the other was in distress. Yet, this morning, I woke up at my own apartment, brushed my teeth, put on my makeup, grabbed a cup of coffee, and felt completely at peace, blissfully unaware that my mother had been dead already for two hours. The reality of it hasn’t necessarily sunken it yet. The first week is nothing but shock and a million thoughts – both good and bad – permeating your mind.

I laid my mother to rest yesterday, seeing her for the first time, and the only emotion I can say that really overtook me was a finalization that I finally had some closure; I was able to hug her one last time, tell her how pretty she looked, grab her hand, feeling how cold it was while remembering how warm her embrace used to be, kissing her forehead, and wiping away the fuzzball that landed on her lips. I walked up to her casket shaking. I told the funeral director that she was claustrophobic, and the plaque I bought her for Christmas that said, “I love that you’re my mom” for $3.99 was rested near her head and I asked him to move it because I didn’t want the sharp edges to hurt her.

I cried over her body and was greeted by neighbors, old teachers, old friends, and co-workers from jobs present and jobs past who hugged me and told me what a beautiful person my mother was. I hugged them back, not knowing some and angry that others I expected to see didn’t show up to pay their respects. My father requested a closed casket because he had watched her die. She had gotten up to use the bathroom, and then collapsed on the floorboards in my parents’ hallway. My father raced to her, watching her convulsing on the wooden floor she’d asked him to lay down, and just like that, she was gone. The paramedics tried reviving her for two hours and her pulse never came back – as I blissfully drank my coffee twenty miles away. He didn’t want to see her again. The last image ingrained in him was bad enough. The open casket was for me, for one hour so I could look at her beautiful face again, so I could touch her, and tell her again how much I loved her. When it was time to close it, I felt a hole in my heart just explode and my fiancé grabbed me tighter until the funeral director came in to say it was done.

The priest said some words, all kind. And then I gave her a eulogy. I wrote it in thirty minutes yesterday morning. The words poured out, reminiscing about our shopping trips and the mornings we spent drinking coffee and all our laughter. I talked about how she was the kind of mom you could tell anything to, and that for twenty-six years, she was the greatest friend I’d ever known. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I sat down and the priest told us all that the family, meaning my dad and me, had some music we wanted to play. I wanted to give each song an introduction. The first was “Slipping Through My Fingers” a song from the movie version of Mamma Mia, which my mom and I had watched countless times, and the song I played on repeat at the docks in my hometown, where I cried, hunching myself over toward my knees, feeling life fleeting away and screaming out loud that I just wanted to die. I listened to Meryl Streep’s shitty voice sing about watching her daughter grow and having regret about all the plans they made, yet never got around to – something I realized I knew all too well with my mother.

Then my parents’ wedding song began to play, and I lost control of my emotions listening to the King of Rock and Roll sing “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”  I thought back to the Sunday mornings when the oldies station would end their Elvis block with the live version and my mom would grab me and dance with me. I used to hate it, and I sat there yesterday, thinking not only about how I should have loved it every single time it happened, but also what had to be running through her mind when she danced to that as a newlywed; how happy she must have been and for a second, I felt a little comfort. I preceded to apologize to the priest for the third song being ‘Bat out of Hell’ by Meatloaf. My mother loved him – and rock and roll. She’d scream those high notes and feel the music come alive inside her. The song screeched and my fiancé and I just sat there, laughing, because I was actually playing ‘Bat out of Hell’ at my mother’s Catholic funeral. She would have loved it. The image of her bouncing around, screaming, and dancing completely out of tune, made my heart sing.

And then, I watched them wheel her over, watching as my brother, my fiancé, my uncle, nephew, and best friends’ husbands carry her. The wind was howling and when she died on Tuesday, all I kept fearing was that the snow we were scheduled for on Friday would happen, and then somehow either start or end as rain. All my life my mom told me that if it rained during someone’s funeral it meant that they didn’t want to die. I realize that’s total bullshit, and I’ve got to hand it to my mother, she made a plethora of funerals much worse for me than it really had to be. But there I was, alone in my childhood bedroom, talking out loud to my mother saying, “Listen, if you do anything for me, just let it be a nice, sunny day on Friday, okay?” I then preceded to ask her to turn a flashlight on to communicate with her because we were obsessed with ghost hunting shows to no avail, although if her spirit was beside me she probably cracked up laughing. It didn’t rain on Friday. And while we stood there, saying a final blessing, my head buried into my fiancé’s arms, my best friend across the way looked at me and pointed up at the sky behind me. I turned my head and saw that a patch of light started shining down, breaking the bleakness of the snow-filled clouds. I smiled, and rested a flower on her coffin, and then turned to wave goodbye before I saw the grounds workers work on lowering her into the ground. That wasn’t the last thing I wanted to see.

Now, it’s up to you whether you believe in the paranormal. Hell, it’s up to you whether you even want to believe in an afterlife. Though being raised Catholic, I had always wanted proof that something happens after we die. The worst part about having faith is that there is no concrete evidence. It’s just something we believe, yet, in that moment, what I wanted wasn’t faith, it was evident that my mom was okay.

Despite nearing my thirties, this week I felt like a six-year-old child again, begging and desperate for my mom to heal this raw wound of mine.

I hadn’t talked to any friends that week, even though they called, and left voicemail after voicemail. We all headed over to my aunt and uncle’s house for food, and I had gone upstairs with my cousin to fix my makeup when she told me she had seen my mom.

I asked her what had happened, and she said she saw my mom the day before, sitting at her parents’ dining room table, looking at my uncle while he worked on cleaning it. She said she was there to check in on her brother because it was his birthday. She wanted to see if he was okay. My cousin said to me, “she didn’t know I could see her.” I asked her what else had happened and she said, “I asked her why she was here and not with you.” And my cousin broke down crying, placing her hand on her chest and said, “I don’t know how to explain it, but she spoke to me here,” and pointed at her chest. “She just gave me the answers. I felt them.”

I asked her what my mom had said. And my cousin began to tell me, “I know Courtney’s been looking for me, but she’s not ready yet. When she’s ready, I’ll come.”

Now, for any skeptics, I would argue that a vague thing to say would be something along the lines of “Your mom is with you,” a line that can’t really be proven whatsoever. But, this was too specific. I hadn’t talked to my cousin all week. I didn’t share with her what I had done with the flashlight, nor how I begged my mom in hysterics to touch my hand, or to make the microwave beep, or to have the lightbulb flicker. My cousin didn’t know I begged for my mom to let me know she was there when I was crying at the docks, or how I prayed for a sign and begged out loud nearly twenty times since she died on Tuesday. How would my cousin know to say, “I know she’s been looking for me?”

Despite your beliefs, and in case I end up reading some of your comments, please be sensitive – I found tremendous comfort in knowing that my mom has been around me. My mother told my cousin that. Teary-eyed, my cousin told me that my mother said that she’s been with me since it happened. Yesterday afternoon, while my fiancé and I were upstairs at my family’s house, laying coats down for the guests who had come over, he paused and asked me if he could ask me a question. The night before he had run to our apartment to get his suit, to feed the cat, and to take a shower because I’ll admit, grief does nothing for your hygiene routine. We had just found out that my mother was still able to pay for my wedding dress like she wanted to, and that we’d be able to pay for our wedding, and he was home alone, thinking out loud about that; how even in death my mom was still working her magic to take care of us. We had just moved into our new apartment, and he opened the shower curtain and looked at the mirror where the word LOVE was written on the mirror. It wasn’t handwritten though. It was like the lines of clarity formed the word through the steam, while he was just talking to himself about our wedding. She had always promised me she’d be at my wedding, and I don’t know – we both took that as a sign she was keeping her promise.

I had watched my mom decline in health since being diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer six years ago. The past year has been the hardest as we watched her endure biopsy after biopsy, new medication, pain in her legs, feeling the worry about her cancer growing in her brain and how her life ended up being filled with the inability to walk on her own or unable to drive because the tumor pressed against her brain. It was devastating to see the woman who one year earlier was vibrant and full of life ask me to help her sit down, or need assistance to go to the bathroom. She pushed through though. She helped me move. She arranged my kitchen. She was full of life, and vigor up until the very end, and even though our final conversation Monday night, I hung up with her, feeling anchored that she was in my life and I loved her for it.

None of us expected her to have a heart attack the morning after.

I don’t know what’s to come in the next few weeks, months, or even years. I hear people telling me it will get easier, and others telling me I’m still in shock and am not grieving because I’m feeling comforted by the notion that my mom would never leave me, and also that she told me months prior she would never want her death to devastate me to the point where I can’t move on.

I feel conflicted by wanting to be okay – to skip the part where I’m angry, or resentful that she left, or that God had taken her.

I want to make peace with her passing because somehow, I know she’s okay, and I know she would never leave me, and while I desperately miss her and am too in shock to even look at the newspaper where we have her obituary, that we all grieve in different ways and maybe for me, I will actually be okay, because that’s what my mother would desperately want for me.

The Moment I Discovered I Wanted to Become a Writer

Courtney Dercqu writerIn typical #ThrowbackThursday fashion, I want to talk about the moment when I first discovered I wanted to become a writer. It all started after I had read the children’s book, “Haunted Sister” by Lael Litke when I was about nine years old. The book entranced me with this opening sentence, “It was raining on the day I died.” The funny thing is, I haven’t read that book in thirteen years and I still remember that line as if I had just laid eyes on the text this morning.

I must have read that book a dozen times during my childhood. Never before had I’d been so entranced by a simple sentence. Up until then, books were mandatory – they were used for lessons and bedtime stories. Books weren’t transformative. Books weren’t compelling.

And then, my eyes laid focus on that simple sentence and everything in my life since then has been changed. It was from that moment, as I could feel the yellowed pages rubbing between my fingertips, that I discovered the magic of an artist’s words. I was lost inside an imaginative world where characters wholly existed, cradling me until I fell asleep, teasing me to turn the next page when my eyelids could barely contain them.

Suddenly, I knew that this was the impact I was destined to have on the world.

A Life-Long Interest

I had always had an interest in the written word. I would scribble plot lines or funny sentences etched into my notebook. Cohesively, those words would add up to my very first story just a few short years later about a young girl who lost her fiance in the aftermath of 9/11.

It’s been thirteen years since the fateful day when I read that sentence. I remember like it was yesterday. Sitting passenger seat in my father’s Chevy – the engine purring, the car seat flaming up as the heater vents attacked the cold leather – and me, book in hand ready to dive into a parallel universe. In those years, as my style has changed, and my experiences have broadened, my love for creating stories has never wavered. It’s a love that’s as classic as a tale as old as time; it’s my backbone, my identity, my existence.


Whether’s it’s been documenting my travels to foreign cities such as Boston, Portland, or Old Key West, Florida or giving insight to my favorite play – or favorite painting – writing has provided me an outlet unlike any hobby I’ve had (and I’ve had quite a few).

This blog is an opportunity to share my life with you, however, that may be described. Tales are derived from experiences – all sorts of experiences – and here, we take the good, the bad and the utterly imaginative and put them into words. Stories start here – and I’m honored you want to be along for the ride.